Urban photography, a beginner’s guide

So, what is urban photography?

The genre of urban photography has changed over the years. Originally, urban photography was regarded as a type of photography taking place in an urban, or city environment.

Then, the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Garry Winogrand came onto the scene. And human interaction on the streets, slipped into what we know now, as street photography.

And, as we established earlier, urban photography can now be described as images where the environment is the star. Images where the urban environment itself tells the story.


What makes a good urban photography image?

That really depends on the story you’re trying to tell. There’s many different areas of urban photography to get involved with. Here’s some examples to get you started…

Geometric Urban Photography

This is a branch that focuses on the geometric shapes in the environment.

Architectural Curves
Photo by asmuSe
Geometric Ceiling
Photo by Pexels
Urban Geometry
Photo bu PIRO4D


In this category of urban photography, you’ll likely see building facades, escalators, suspension bridges, stairwells, etc.

Anything in the environment that has a geometric, or repeating pattern.


Urban Portrait Photography

Urban Portrait
Photo by Engin Akyurt
Urban Photography
Photo by Engin Akyurt
Roof Portrait
Photo by StockSnap

Urban portrait photography, can sometimes bleed into what we know as general street photography. Take for example the second image shown above.

This is a portrait of a woman sitting on a motorcycle… classic street photography.

Except that the story in the image isn’t the woman, but the mural on the door. It’s that painted image that makes the photograph. This fact makes the image an urban portrait. The environment is the subject of the story, not the woman.



Photo by Engin Akyurt
B&W Street
Photo by Thomas Wolter
Sydney Cityscape
Photo by wimkantona

Cityscapes are pretty self explanatory. It needn’t be a city though, although they’re the most popular


Documentary photography

Checkpoint Charlie
Photo by iamanilozturk
Photo by Tama66
Hole in the Wall
Photo by Tama66

Documentary urban photography is exactly what it sounds like. You’re documenting the truth of the surroundings. Clearly, photographers will use their own creative perspective to get the best images, but the subject matter is always objective, rather than subjective.


So, now you have an idea what urban photography is, it’s time to go out and shoot.

Let me know how you find it, by leaving a comment below ?.


If I’m missing something, or if you disagree with anything I’ve said above, I’m always willing to learn. Let me know 🙂

Or, if any thoughts, concerns or questions come up during your adventure, you can ask those in the comments too.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself.



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